While I obviously don’t revel in the injuries of my favorite team, I have to admit that one of the things I’ve found interesting about researching them is the variety of injuries they’ve had. When I started this journey, I kind of expected to be researching mostly knee injuries, but so far we’ve also explored calves, ribs, shoulders and even the little-celebrated fibula.
In the smorgasbord that is the Colts’ injury list, Addai adds a hamstring and a shoulder. He even had a "minor" head injury in Game 1 against the Bears, but was cleared during the game to return if needed. One LA Times injury report I found also indicated that Addai was questionable for game 13 against Cincinnati with a knee injury, but nothing else substantiated that report.
Joseph Addai, RB
Date of Injury: October 12 & December 7, 2008
Nature of Injury: Torn/strained hamstring and shoulder, respectively
Typical Rehab Process/Duration: ice, rest, passive stretching, active stretching, strengthening. Hamstring likely recovers in 2-4 weeks, shoulder likely 4 weeks.
Players who have suffered similar injuries: hamstring: Fred Taylor, Larry Fitzgerald, Jason Elam
On October 12, Addai became yet another casualty against the Baltimore Ravens, when he was believed to have suffered a "slightly torn" hamstring. (Side note: is that like being slightly pregnant?) I say "believed to have suffered" because 5 days later, Owner’s Edge cited an Indy Star article (which is no longer available on-line) that he did NOT have a torn hammy. AOL’s Fanhouse was skeptical that Tony Dungy would be so furtive about the injury, citing his reaction, presumably to the 2-4 week estimate for Addai’s return:
"I hope not," he said. "I've had pulled muscles that kept me out a week or two. I would think a torn muscle would be a problem. But I hadn't heard that, other than reading it in the paper."
You'd think the head honcho would be in the loop on something like this, as he was with the knowledge that Mike Hart's knee injury was severe (it turned out to be season-ending and possibly career-altering). Dungy's also not really known to lie, as he's an upfront and honest kind of guy. This leads me to believe Addai's hammy is really just pulled and not torn. Just a guess, as I have no extra knowledge of the situation.
Addai returned in 3 weeks to play in the New England game. Torn hamstring or not, Addai’s performance was certainly impacted, as his average dropped from 3.6 yards/carry to that point (regular season games except Baltimore) to just 1.9 in the NE game. He seemed to get his sea legs back a bit over the next several games before once again suffering an injury, this time to his shoulder.
Addai sustained an injury to his right shoulder in the Cincinnati game, briefly returned to the game, and sat out all but one carry for the final 3 games of the regular season. The exact nature of the injury was not reported.
Now let’s look at the physiology. Three muscles comprise the hamstring in the back of the upper leg; they are engaged when you bend your hip or knee… something an athlete does every time he or she takes a stride. Tearing (or strain) can occur when the patient is trying to contract the hamstring while another force is forcing the muscle in the opposite direction. In other words, this could have happened if Addai were trying to accelerate, decelerate or change direction, and were subsequently tackled at his legs. It can also happen if Addai’s quads are stronger than his hamstrings, resulting in an unbalanced system which can strain the hamstrings. Or it could be the result of insufficient stretching before starting the game. Here's an interesting USA Today article from 2006 focused on hamstring injuries in the NFL.
I mused earlier in the year about whether the Colts’ strength and conditioning program was designed well (not sure if Addai works out with his own trainer?). But I know personally that while it’s fun to do leg extensions and see my quads bulge (well… to the extent that they do), it’s harder and less rewarding to do an equal amount of work on my hamstrings. But again I digress… the recovery for a slightly torn, or maybe not torn, hamstring is the typical RICE course… rest, ice, compression and elevation. Time is Addai’s friend here.
As for the shoulder, any discomfort is obviously going to impact a guy who needs to tuck the ball tight against his body, or who needs to use his free arm as a ballast to help him run. I was hoping photo evidence would reveal a preference to carry the ball in one arm or the other, but he looks fairly balanced before and after the injury. Recovery here is less clear. If he had simply bruised his shoulder, then time should heal the injury. If this is something more insidious, like a rotator cuff tear or a broken bone (see: Patriots hide Laurence Maroney’s broken shoulder), then it’s hard to know how his recovery will go.
Finally, one thing stood out to me when I did my research on Addai. We’ve all talked about it, but seeing it in "lights" really reinforced how fragile this guy is. His injury report is long and varied, and it stretches back to his time at LSU. The need to allow him split carries was never as obvious to me as when I saw this. I do expect Addai to recover from this season’s injuries and be ready for Game 1, but also I predict we will continue to see him on the injury reports throughout the year.
Dr. Blue's Prognosis - Likelihood of Game 1 Appearance: High